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Corruption hounds top Chinese leaders

Questions about scandals ignored at party congress

“It’s very easy for me to disclose, because I don’t have many assets,” said Yu Zhengsheng, a party leader.

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“It’s very easy for me to disclose, because I don’t have many assets,” said Yu Zhengsheng, a party leader.

BEIJING — The specter of corruption continued to hound China’s leaders Friday, the second day of a weeklong Communist Party congress at which the country’s next generation of top leaders are expected to be unveiled.

At several group events during the day, reporters were allowed to watch party leaders discuss policy in a pre-scripted manner — mostly designed to give the party congress a veneer of democratic dialogue. But the veneer was shattered, in most cases, when leaders opened the floor to questions.

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Reporters inevitably tried to ask about recent corruption scandals and the lack of enforcement and strong anticorruption regulations in China, which allows leaders and their relatives to profit off their political connections.

In most cases, the questions were not answered.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, especially, has been under fire ever since a recent New York Times article said that his family controls assets worth $2.7 billion, some of it in industries that fall under Wen’s purview. Policy discussions attended by Wen and by President Hu Jintao on Friday were closed to reporters.

Amid a day full of generalizations, the most surprising and direct response came from Yu Zhengsheng, the current Shanghai party chief and an official many believe will land a coveted seat next week on China’s all-powerful standing committee.

When asked about family corruption, Yu said his wife is now completely retired, which means she is not pursuing any lucrative earnings

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